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Mendoza, Diaz named Ceres High’s WAC Scholar Athletes of the Year
Manny Mendoza and Arianna Diaz
Seniors Manny Mendoza and Arianna Diaz have been named Ceres High School’s Western Athletic Conference Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Seniors Manny Mendoza and Arianna Diaz have been named Ceres High School’s Western Athletic Conference Male and Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” Diaz said. “I was kind of surprised I was picked. This gives recognition to the girls soccer team as well.”

“It says a lot about who she is,” CHS girls soccer head coach Rudy Jimenez added. “She’s a very, well-rounded person.”

“I feel pretty honored,” Mendoza stated. “It’s definitely something I’m proud of. All of my hard work paid off.”

“He shined this year,” Bulldogs’ football/track and field leader Brett Johnson said.

Mendoza earned seven varsity letters during his prep athletic career, including four in track and field and three in football.

“It was definitely fun,” he said. “I’m glad I got to do football and track. I learned a lot of life skills, especially from coach (Brett) Johnson. He taught us a lot.”

Mendoza was an all-league performer in both sports senior year.

“I set goals for myself in the beginning,” he said. “Senior year, I went above and beyond. I made some great memories.”

A standout receiver in football, Mendoza caught 49 passes for 785 yards and eight touchdowns while leading the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs this past fall.

He earned second-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.

Mendoza ranked first in the WAC in receptions, yards and yards per game, and second in touchdowns.

He caught 15 passes for 319 yards and four TDs as a junior.

 “I’m proud of how I played,” said Mendoza. “I did a lot better this year.”

“It was pretty surprising getting to that level,” he added. “I really gave everything I could at practice. Coach (Brandon) Moring and I drew up plays on our free time at school. It worked out in games.”

A standout sprinter, Mendoza enjoyed his best year to date during his final season with Ceres High’s boys track and field team.

“I took all four years seriously,” he said. “I’m going to miss hanging out with all of my friends. Racing against people I know from football was fun.”

Mendoza qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters competition for the first time this spring.

He set a personal record while placing third in the 400 (51.11) at the Division-IV Championships.

He took first in the 400 (52.57) at the Western Athletic Conference Finals.

Mendoza teamed up with Reis Smith, Sergio Torres and Cashton Almeida to finish second in the 4x400 relay (3:35) at the WAC Meet.

The practices were hard,” he said. “The coaches pushed me to my limits. Every meet, I got better. I was focused.”

Mendoza had a cumulative grade-point average of 3.9 at Ceres High.

He took a total of three advanced-placement classes, including two this year and one as a junior.

“I always knew I had to get my work done in the classroom,” Mendoza said. As a reward, I was able to play sports. It was very challenging. There were a lot of long nights where I had to stay up and study. I got it done.”

Mendoza earned a football scholarship to the University of Redlands.

He’ll major in broadcast communications.

Mendoza wants to become a sports commentator.

“That’s my plan right now,” said Mendoza, who will become the second person from his family to graduate from college.

Diaz earned four varsity letters as a key member of Ceres High’s girls soccer team.

“She was a big part of the team,” Jimenez stated. “She was a team player. She was a hard worker. She’s a very quiet, humble player. I wish I would have had more time with her. She helped me grow as a new coach in the sport.”

Diaz, a winger, helped lead Ceres High’s girls soccer team to a 12-10-1 overall record, third-place finish in the WAC standings (8-5-1) and Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III playoff appearance this past winter.

“We worked hard as a team,” she said.

Diaz garnered first-team all-conference recognition as a senior, junior and sophomore.

She collected six goals and one assist in league play during her final season with the Bulldogs.

Diaz ranked first on the team in scoring junior and sophomore years.

Diaz’s teams qualified for the playoffs three times.

“I enjoyed playing with different people over the years,” she said. “I led by example.”

Diaz started playing the sport at the age of six with the Ceres Youth Soccer Organization.

She played competitive soccer for a combined nine years with the Modesto Ajax and Ceres Aftershocks.

“It was a safe place being able to go out and play,” Diaz said. “It kept me busy.”

Diaz had a cumulative GPA of 3.95 at Ceres High.

She took a total of three AP classes, including two this year and one as a junior.

“I feel like I had to make a lot of sacrifices,” Diaz said. “I worked very hard. I stayed up late to get my school work done. I was constantly trying to study. I always tried my hardest.”

Diaz will attend Modesto Junior College.

She plans to major in architecture.

Diaz will become the first person from her family to graduate from a four-year university.

“My parents have always been there to support me,” she said. “I can ask them anything.”